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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Garden Bounty - Sure Wish We Had Planted More Veggies - and Thoughts on Self-Sufficiency

Enjoying the bounty of our garden and it is wonderful. The tomatoes are ripening nicely, each day I pick more, I may well end up canning some as the plants are loaded with fruit. The cucumber and zucchini plants, one of each, are keeping me well supplied. And the pepper plants just give and give and give, I love peppers, so the bounty is appreciated.

I have a crock of cucumbers on the kitchen counter, they are well on their way to being dill pickles. I made a brine, then added a few garlic cloves and some fresh dill, popped in the cucumbers and covered the crock with a piece of cheese cloth and now they are left to ferment for one week. On Saturday I will move the pickles into a couple of jars along with some brine and then store in the refrigerator. Refrigeration halts the fermentation process. Fingers crossed they turn out nicely and have remained crisp. My next batch of pickles will be sweet, but I will probably use zucchini instead of cucumber, a nice sweet pickle is a fabulous addition to any sandwich, or so my taste buds think.

My only regret, I wish we had planted more. We haven't really done a garden properly for several years, this year we did it right but on a very small scale. I have kept up on the weeding, watered when needed, and generally tended my plants. It was much less daunting having only a small garden, but I know next year I will add kale, onions, rutabaga, radishes, and do more than one each of cucumber and zucchini.   But, I still want to keep it small scale. Gone are the days of planting fifty tomato plants, lots of potatoes, a large patch of corn, rows and rows of green beans and peas, and anything else I could fit in. I can't believe I used to keep up all the weeding on three huge gardens, and canned, froze, or stored all of the garden bounty. I would have a hundred plus pints of green beans canned, eighty plus quarts of tomatoes canned, corn, some canned, some frozen, peas always frozen. Potatoes and onions and other root veggies stored in mesh sacks in the basement. And with our four children home it all got eaten. Then I would can jars of grape jelly and make strawberry jam using our grapes and strawberries. And lots of applesauce from the fruit of our apple trees. One year I made some fabulous brandied pears. It was a satisfying way to live, but a lot of work.

I feel pulled back to my old ways, I am back to baking all of our bread, and although vegan, I miss having laying hens, and sometimes feel tempted to have another flock. But the cruelty of the hatcheries is beyond belief, and the poor little chicks are a day old and sent out in the mail, it is all rather horrendous. My motives are different now, I am trying to create less waste, so baking our own bread avoids bringing plastic bread packaging into the house. Baking cookies and other goodies for the grand children and family also avoids bringing packaging into the house. I was able to purchase thirty pounds of blueberries at a very good price, and they came in cardboard packaging, win win for me. I froze half of them for eating, and the other half Dave is going to use to make blueberry wine.  I like doing things myself, so does my husband, so a certain level of self-sufficiency is satisfying.

But in regards to self-sufficiency, it is a nice dream, but it is not really doable. Sure I can bake my own bread, but I don't grow and mill the grain for the flour, I don't know how to make yeast, I have to buy sugar and other dry goods. I can't make my own canning jars and lids for them, there are always things that we use that we cannot supply for ourselves, and I am okay with that, it is the way the world works. I think the main goal of those who desire self-sufficiency is to do for one's self as much as possible and to be good stewards of the earth and the resources provided to us. Some want isolation and separation from society as a primary reason. I would say my husband and I are quiet people, we keep ourselves to ourselves and the friends we hang with are our adult children and their partners and our fabulous grandchildren, that is our circle, and we love it.

The other benefits we reap from our way of living are enjoyment, feeling in touch with the seasons,  with nature and with the cycle of life. We find it brings great satisfaction to our mind, body, and spirit.

On another topic, today is a Triple Birthday in our family, my husband is 61, our son Ben is 28, and our grandson Peter is 5 - how cool that three generations in our family share a birthday. Tonight Dave and I will celebrate alone, and on Saturday we are having a family party, as on the 10th our daughter-in-law Taylor is 26, she is Ben's wife, and our son-in-law Brad, Amber's husband, is 34 on the 14th.  August is a crazy birthday month, our oldest grandson Henry will be 11 on the 26th, and my mom will be 80 on the 27th.  Our newest grandson, is due to arrive on September 7, but if he comes early he too could add to the August craziness!


affectioknit said...

You are so lucky to have a garden...we don't have any place for that here...unless we were to till up the front yard...and I don't think the parish would love that...haha...
...your fresh food all looks so good though...
Happy Birthday all around!
~Have a lovely day!

Pen Wilcock said...

My veggie patch is small too — we changed over to trees a few years ago, because fruit is more expensive in the shops than veggies, because you can still sit or play on the grass underneath them, and because they don't need weeding! I try to grow beans and courgettes (zucchini) though, and a few tomatoes and lots of herbs. This year I grew kale for the first time. We were delighted by how much better we liked the fresh-picked kale than the shop kale. Butterflies have laid eggs so in the last week or two the caterpillars have eaten a lot of the kale leaves, but we don't really mind because part of our aim in growing a garden is to encourage the insects and birds.
I hope the birthday celebrations went well!

Bean said...

I like to grow kale, it is easy, and it is so resilient growing well from early spring, through to first very, very heavy frost. And so nutritious.